But we have our own special celebration going on this weekend at WUMB, as Marcia Young Palmater celebrates her 40th anniversary of producing and hosting Downeast Ceilidh. If you’re not familiar with the show, it features traditional music of Canada’s Atlantic Provinces: New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia. It also features news of interest to the Canadian-American community of greater Boston. You can hear the show every Sunday night at 8pm on WUMB.
The Boston area has long been a popular destination for Eastern Canadians, and Downeast Ceilidh has done a great job helping Atlantic Province Canadians feel like they’ve been transported back to home. Each week, using a foundation of Cape Breton fiddle music, jigs and reels Marcia tells stories of the musicians both living and those who have passed on; some of the music includes songs in Scottish Gaelic and Acadian French. She highlights Canadian celebrations and events such as the Halifax Explosion in 1917, and relays accounts such as the help provided by Bostonians to care for the wounded from that devastating event. To this day, the residents of Nova Scotia give a Christmas tree to the people of Boston each year in thanks.
If you want to find out what’s happening each week at local venues such as the Watertown Canadian American Club or where to find Boston area Cape Breton concerts and dances, there’s no other radio program in the area to find out the information.
Marcia’s deep interest in the music and culture of the Canadian Atlantic Provinces are a result of her visit to the area in 1961. She describes it as a “life-changing” experience. She says, “I wanted to give something back to the Canadian-American community centered around Boston, in gratitude for the wonderful music and culture they have shared with me.”
Downeast Ceilidh was first broadcast from MIT’s radio station (then WTBS, now WMBR) in Cambridge, MA on February 3, 1972. It has been on WUMB for the last ten years, after the show was cancelled by WMBR.
Tune in this Sunday night at 8pm for a special Downeast Ceilidh 40th Anniversary show featuring classic recordings from musicians who were alive when the show first started.
Happy Anniversary, Marcia!
- Pat Monteith